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Bill Evans: Another Time: The Hilversum Concert

Geno Thackara By

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As charmed good-luck magnets go, producer Zev Feldman is the jazz world's equivalent of the guy who keeps winning the lottery year after year. He and Resonance Records specialize in finding and curating unreleased gems to share with the wider world—not dodgy bootlegs, but quality material in terms of content and sound—and giving each discovery the respect it deserves. For such a legendary and extensively recorded artist as Bill Evans who's been gone almost four decades, it's easy to suspect all the Good Stuff is already out there, but you never know when the obvious assumption will be wonderfully proven wrong.

Resonance's treatments of Evans began with a from-the-attic 1968 tape released as Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate in 2012 (a performance with Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell). Lightning struck again with 2016's Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest from June of the same year, the pianist's only studio recording during the six-month stretch when Jack DeJohnette occupied the drum chair. Perhaps it's only natural then, if extraordinarily fortunate, that a respectful enthusiast sought them out when looking to share another unheard recording made for Dutch public radio two days later. Lovingly presented with the blessing of Evans' estate, label and bandmates, Another Time is another gem of a find and a delight for committed and casual listeners alike.

The setting was an intimate studio in front of a small and traditionally respectful European audience, but the trio's performance is as sprightly and animated as that of a club date. Evans remains sophisticated and beautifully melodic as always, spinning his trademark chordings right from the first weaving harmonics of "You're Gonna Hear from Me." At the same time he's unmistakably energized by his cohorts, who coast at an infectious and spirited level throughout the set. DeJohnette's spry cymbal splashing and clattering rolls are tasteful enough to suit the tone of the show, while still showing the busy rhythmic sense that would get him drafted by Miles Davis for some much louder electric work in the next couple years. His bright fills propel the gang through a dynamic "Nardis" and a rousing finale of "Five" with a playful sense of fun; those points sound like they could have made the beginning of a cooking mid-set stretch, but sadly this broadcast's 48-minute running time doesn't allow for more extensive explorations.

While Gomez admits to being a bit discontented with his bass tone and "Embraceable You" intro solo, the rendition here swings beautifully, and he stands out in spots like "Who Can I Turn To?" as well. He had been a factor in this phase of Evans' rhythmically focused late-career development for almost two years at this point, and the pair's comfortable rapport is a prime example of why they remained productive partners for almost a decade more. "When we later went on to [a residency at London's] Ronnie Scott's club... that's when it really opened up," the bassist hints during the album's extensive and thoughtful liners (another noteworthy asset to the package). It's most disappointing that there aren't any similarly high-quality tapes of their later run known to exist, but that makes it no less a pleasure to hear this particular group bursting with freshness and inspiration straight from the beginning of their brief time together. If Another Time turns out to be the last we hear from them, it will still shine as another highlight of the Evans catalogue not to be missed.

Track Listing: You're Gonna Hear from Me; Very Early; Who Can I Turn To?; Alfie; Embraceable You; Emily; Nardis; Turn Out the Stars; Five.

Personnel: Bill Evans: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums.

Title: Another Time: The Hilversum Concert | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Resonance Records

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